A young man on the internet wrote a thoughtful piece called “Where Have All the Beautiful Girls Gone?” In an effort to highlight the differences in the ways we talk about women and men, I have swapped the genders of his essay (and made no other edits) and would like to ask:
Where have all the handsome boys gone?
I look around me every day and often I ask myself this question. Where have all the handsome boys gone? I wish I knew.
Someone will rise in protest to my question. “There are handsome boys all around you,” they will say. You are right. There are some handsome boys around me. But there are a lot of just good looking boys around me. There are many boys who take great care to make sure that their physical appearance is within the world’s standards of handsomeness. But I do not subscribe to the world’s standard of handsomeness.
Handsomeness, true handsomeness, is more than skin deep. Anyone can change their appearance on the outside. It may take an hour or two in the morning to accomplish it, but pretty well everyone can do it. Real handsomeness takes a lot more effort and a lot more time. True handsomeness runs deep to the heart, soul, and mind of a man.
True handsomeness is in intelligence. A truly handsome boy will develop a keen mind. He will cultivate a mindset of awareness and the ability to think critically. He will listen to the arguments and opinions of others. He will consider their positions and evaluate them against his experience and against his own opinions. He will develop the ability to study and learn on his own. He will develop the ability to read a text, understand what is being said, understand what is not being said and why, and be able to summarize it for someone else.
True handsomeness is in modesty. There is far more to modesty than is often perceived. When I say “modesty” I mean modesty in dress, attitude, and temperament. A handsome boy dresses modestly. He respects his body and those of others. He does not use his body to get attention. An immodestly dressed boy is pleasing to the eye, but a modestly dressed boy is pleasing to the eye and to the soul. He recognizes that his body is an inestimable gift. He treats it that way and expects everyone else to treat it that way too. Modesty is also humility. It is not thinking less of himself. He understands that He has value. He understands this and doesn’t need to be reassured all the time, though there is nothing wrong with a compliment and He will receive one graciously. He thinks of others, not of himself and helps them recognize their own worth, too. And He is modest in temperament. He does not get angry easily. He feels strong emotions, but He is ever the master of them.
True handsomeness is in refinement. A handsome boy is not coarse or vulgar. He speaks well. He does not use predominantly slang or casual language. He knows courtesy and is well-mannered. He enjoys the arts, both performing and static. He enjoys athletics. He enjoys the outdoors. He has dignity, but He is not stiff. He knows when it is appropriate to be casual and have fun. He will also develop his own talents, whether in the arts, in speaking, in listening, in teaching, or in any other area. He recognizes that He has talent and He will use that in the service of others.
True handsomeness is in honesty. A handsome boy is honest with everyone around him. This does not mean that He tells everyone everything. But He will have the courage to tell those around him what they need to know. And especially He will not conceal necessary truths from those closest to him. He will recognize that secrets damage trust and trust is the foundation of every relationship from family to friends to lovers.
True handsomeness is in balance. A handsome boy does not overdo on anything. He recognizes that there is a time and a place for everything. There is a time to work and a time to relax. There is a time to be happy and a time to mourn. He learns how to manage his time. Sometimes there are things He cannot do. He recognizes this and lets go of those things. He spends the appropriate time working, but He makes certain that He takes time for the building and maintaining of meaningful relationships.
True handsomeness is in loyalty. Once a handsome boy forms a friendship, He keeps it. (I have to insert the caveat, unless the friendship/relationship is unhealthy). Once He makes a relationship with someone special, He puts forth effort to make it grow. He does not cast aside a friendship or relationship simply because today He doesn’t feel excited or happy. He does not cast it aside simply because He is afraid of what someone else will or does say about it. He does not split his heart between two or three different girls. He recognizes that marriage is meant to be a companionship, not a trio. He recognizes that He will only be happy and whole once He has given his heart to one and only one, the one who has given their heart to his. He knows the meaning of devotion and loves truly.
True handsomeness is in recognizing that He is a son of Goddess, a son of a Mother in Heaven who loves him. He loves Her and He wants to please Her. He lives his life according to Her precepts. He is not ashamed of Her or his conviction of Her gospel. He develops his spiritual side. He reads the scriptures, participates in church meetings, and attends the temple. He trusts that his Mother will answer his prayers. When He receives guidance from Her, He acts on it without doubting. He moves forward knowing that his Mother will take care of him.
This is a handsome boy. I now ask again: Where have all the handsome boys gone?